Anyone who knows me professionally knows I’m passionate about public relations. I truly believe if you are an entrepreneur, or even an aspiring entrepreneur, you need to make PR an integral part of your business plan.

I’m always banging on that, if you have the best product or service, unless you get the message out there, it is pointless! The value of public relations to a business, brand or individual is, in my opinion, priceless. Given, as we tell our clients, PR is not a ‘sprint’, but more of a ‘marathon’, its outcome is sometimes someway after the actual campaign has ended. This means its effectiveness is frequently underestimated. It is also an ongoing role for any business.

I was reminded of this when I came across this article in ‘UK PR Week’ recently.¬†“Nightclub group Deltic uses PR to emerge from the shadows”; It truly reinforces something we’ve been trying to tell our clients – PR really comes into its own when you have to handle a crisis. Handled well, it is your savour, but conversely, it can all go so easily wrong if not dealt with correctly.

We’ve all either heard of, or read, of those situations which became disastrous because their PR was handled poorly – think the Byron¬†burger chain backlash, or more recently the United Airlines headline-grabbing drama.

Both these companies are major businesses with the money to hire the best PR advisers in the business and they still got it wrong. I would hazard a guess, they ignored the advice of their PR team. If they can still fail to understand the value and importance of PR for their business, it is no surprise that as new fledgling business, operating on a shoestring, PR is one of the last things you’re considering spending your meager budget on! The problem is, that is a big mistake.

When you’re putting your business plan together and you’ve identified your Marketing Budget, add ‘public relations’ to that budget. The beauty of public relations is that it is cost effective, you can frequently secure amazing media exposure without any additional spend. There are a great deal you can do which will not add any additional cost to your already allocated spend.

With the growing onslaught of social media platforms, many people mistakenly think they don’t need to learn how to carry out public relations; they believe just by having a presence on twitter, facebook, linkedin or any of the plethora of social media outlets, that is all they need to do. As a PR professional, with decades of journalistic experience, I think it is an oversight to forget traditional media outlets.

Given there are still print newspapers, albeit they’re in decline, radio programmes and magazines, they all need good stories which are not simply regurgitated from what’s trending on twitter. This is where you have an opportunity to get yourself noticed, especially in your local media but you have to know how to reach them and how to present the story.

This is where workshops like our, DIY PR Masterclass, can help you. Many PR practitioners offer training for SMEs which will give you the tools to create a PR campaign. Whatever your financial challenges, investing in learning how to develop an effective PR strategy and learning some of the tools for securing media coverage can transform your business.

As billionaire Bill Gates once said: “If I as down to the last dollar of my marketing budget, I’d spend it on PR”. You need no greater testimonial than that, on the importance of PR.

An earlier version of this article was published on LinkedIn by Evadney Campbell MBE